Post-tonsillectomy respiratory complications in children with sleep disordered breathing

Annie E. Moroco, Robert A. Saadi, Meghan N. Wilson

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4 Scopus citations


Objective: A common indication for tonsillectomy in children is clinically diagnosed sleep disordered breathing (SDB) without confirmation of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) by polysomnography (PSG). Our goal was to review rates of post-tonsillectomy respiratory complications in children with SDB without prior PSG in order to develop recommendations for postoperative monitoring and safe hospital discharge in this population. Methods: Following Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, a database query using Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for tonsillectomy with or without adenoidectomy (42820, 42821, 42825, 42826) between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2017 was performed. International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes for sleep disordered breathing (G47.30), snoring (R06.83), and obstructive sleep apnea (G47.33) were applied for further selection. Charts were individually reviewed to confirm the inclusion criteria of pediatric patients (≤18 years) who underwent tonsillectomy without prior PSG and were monitored overnight. Demographic, operative, and relevant postoperative hospital course data (including desaturations, supplemental oxygen requirements, and upgraded level of care) were collected. Results: A total of 1874 unique patient encounters were identified by our database search and 364 children met inclusion criteria. The average age of the patient population was 6.5 ± 3.1 years and 52.2% of children were female. Mean z-score for the population was 0.6. The rate of overnight oxygen desaturation events (<95%) was 2.2%, with no severe complications found in this population. Children with desaturation events were supplemented with oxygen and resolved prior to hospital discharge. Only race was found to be significantly related to risk of mild overnight desaturations (P = 0.023). Conclusion: A lack of significant postoperative respiratory complications or alterations in the clinical management of children with SDB without prior PSG supports the idea that such patients may safely be discharged from the hospital following tonsillectomy without overnight oxygen monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109852
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Apr 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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